Yes, I am a travel blogger. And no, I do not piss glitter. A look at what life as a travel blogger can really be like.

“Glitter close up” by Inkwina – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Huge disclaimer: This is most definitely a rant.

This post has been a long time coming. But, life got in the way.

And, I’m not talking about my life of travel and unicorns and rainbows that for some reason the general public seems to think we travel bloggers live. I’m talking about the cold, hard world that REALLY can be life.

Waking up and wanting to get through the day, just so I can go to sleep and start another day. Working with my laptop perched on my legs, leaning against a pillow on my bed, wearing a bra and shorts because I just can’t be bothered with getting out of bed. And, when I do get out of bed, it is to smoke a cigarette, go to the bathroom, or go and heat up some crappy food. Oh, and to grab a corkscrew and pour a glass of wine or 10.

See, people talk on the interwebs about what a glorious life they lead as travel bloggers. Seeing the places! Eating the food! Drinking the drinks! Sleeping in that 1 billion thread count bed. They don’t talk about the struggles. They just spew the idea that everyone and their mother can do it, too. Can live some kind of life where they can see the world, make a shit ton of money and go to sleep with a smile on their face and start the next day all sparkly and rich.

I call bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit.

Yes, there are definitely a select few who are able to do this (and the ones who really do damn well deserve it!), and make enough money to live (likely not in the States. Or Australia. Or maybe even parts of Europe.) And, my hat goes off to them because they work their asses off. And I mean it.

But, the rest of us? Nope. Not even close. Some will tell you they are successful (and you can be, too!), but if you look closely, it is because the post is littered with affiliate links directing you to often-times pricey resources to DIY, of which they get a nice cut.

When I tell people I’m a travel blogger, I kind of mumble it. Or, I don’t even tell them. I just say I work online. Because I know what words will follow: Oh my god. You are sooooooo lucky.

While I don’t disagree, I am lucky, I always tell them I am luckier that I have the ability to travel because I work really hard to make money. That I am lucky I have friends and family who support me. That I have enough money behind me to pay for annoying visas to live abroad. To cover the cost of rent. To ship my cats from Thailand to Europe.

Yes, I am a travel blogger. No, I do not piss glitter. I do not get to travel the world for free. Hell, I don’t even make an income off of my blog really. Unless you count that $30 that Amazon has that they won’t release to me until I hit the ever-looming $100 mark.

I work. All of the time. For everyone … but me. I do social media. I do PR. I copywrite. I ghostwrite. Hell, I have even toyed with starting a dog-walking service in Madrid just to cover rent. I dream of simply working for myself. Of writing that one great novel. Of hitting the Amazon Affiliate jackpot. Hell, of writing an e-book that sells millions … or at least 100. But, right now, that isn’t my reality.

So, please. If you want to get into travel blogging, do it because you LOVE TO TRAVEL. And, love to write. Not because you think it is some cure-all. For some, it is. But, for many of us, we do it because we love it, not because we are in it for the money.

Also, welcome back to The Comfort Zone Project. More news to come soon.

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21 comments

  1. With only a few exceptions, the ones who talk about how profitable travel blogging is aren’t the ones doing it well. I have tremendous respect for the select few who have turned excellent writing (and photography) into a successful life – but even those few rarely make meaningful money from their blog. It’s ordinarily from related activities – teaching courses, hosting travel, selling books, etc.

    Most of the ones crowing about how easy it is to make money from travel blogs are the ones hosting dozens of shell blogs with links to advertisers who don’t care if your blog is written with much more finesse than “loren ipsum” as long as it builds up a Google ranking.

    If that’s what makes them happy, hey, you be you. But be honest with people about how you make your living so you aren’t selling people snake oil. The few times I sold links like that, it took me days to wash the slime off.

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    1. YES! Exactly!! I have no gripes with how people choose to operate their blogs and make their money. But, I just get SO TIRED of those same people encouraging others to get into this world with the expectation that they will travel for free and make all the money (especially, when really, those bloggers promoting the “it’s so easy lifestyle” are the ones with affiliates to expensive programs to teach the new bloggers who to “make” money). Then, there is a generation of bloggers who come into this with these ridiculously high expectations and sadly, entitlement that makes the ones who have worked so hard to be professional look bad.

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  2. Diana, thanks for sharing your frustrations! As an initially hobby travel blogger, over the past year or so after my blog had built some good momentum I have experimented with different options to monetise my blog to see whether I am able to generate much of an income. I have done a sponsored trip and afterwards decided that I am not very interested in that option as I really was working when I wanted to be on holiday… and I am planning to experiment further with some affiliate led options to see whether I can generate some a reasonable part time income.

    My most hated photo is the one where someone is sitting beside a beach somewhere with their laptop with the (simulated) appearance of working – there is something seriously wrong with that!

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    1. Haha! That glare is killer; I’ve tried to work from a place with zero shade, it doesn’t work! It is VERY difficult to monetize a blog if you don’t have a huge readership or are super niche. Sponsored trips are fine, but the people who don’t put disclaimers that their trips are comped are doing their readers a disservice, as well as other bloggers. It gives the impression that they can actually afford five-star resorts, etc. I’ve done press trips, and they are fine in terms of getting subject matter to write about when I normally wouldn’t have visited, and also (sometimes) getting additional compensation for my time. Again, always letting readers know that I was a guest of XYZ.I TOTALLY understand the idea of having to work while on holiday. As bloggers, it seems like we are ALWAYS working. I know I walk down the street and have my phone out — just in case there is a photo I should take to put on Instagram, share on Facebook, etc. It never stops! Affiliate programs can work, but my audience isn’t that big to make a dent in terms of money to cover expenses, etc. There are some bloggers with great audience and engagement who make quite a lot from affiliates, but it took them a lot of time to get to that point, and more importantly, A LOT of really hard work and dedication.

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  3. Well said. Too many people are unaware of the realities of be-ing and how much hard work it takes to just survive. Namaste. And knowing you know what it means, dictates how I’m humbled by your honesty.

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    1. Thank YOU!!! I see so many people attending conferences and the general mis-conception is that they can become super successful travel bloggers, travel the world for free, and make a passive income while doing so. NOPE. It is fueled by a group of bloggers who try to get people to drink the Kool-Aid and buy programs from them to become rich bloggers, yet most of the bloggers who promote said programs tend to be those who could take a few lessons from the ones who really are successful.

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  4. Okay – compliment alert.

    First, I cannot stand the Narcissistic Brigade that pollutes the travel blog community.

    That’s not you – you attack subjects with vigour and passion – and your primary drive is to promote causes dear to your heart, or to educate/warn your readers.

    That sets you in a class apart.

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    1. THANK YOU. I try REALLY hard to be honest and share with my readers the realities of my life. So many people think that traveling full-time, as I did in the past, and living as an expat is just amazing. The truth is, it is, but it isn’t always easy. I am consistently grateful for the life I am living and know I am incredibly lucky. But, I’m a person, and nothing is perfect. Traveling and living as an expat doesn’t take that away.

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  5. I love this:

    “I work. All of the time. For everyone … but me. I do social media. I do PR. I copywrite. I ghostwrite. Hell, I have even toyed with starting a dog-walking service in Madrid just to cover rent. I dream of simply working for myself.”

    Sooooo many blogs I read tout how awesome it is “to work for yourself.” And my immediate reaction is NO, you are almost never truly working for yourself – you may not have a traditional 9 to 5 job with a boss, but you are also not working for yourself – you rely on clients to pay you and you likely have to hustle to find those clients and keep those clients so really you are probably working harder than many of us with traditional 9 to 5 jobs. Not to mention that any day you aren’t working, you aren’t getting paid. You do have a lot of freedoms that we don’t have (like the freedom to work from almost anywhere) but you still have to answer to other people to pay the bills.

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  6. I love love love the title.
    When I grow up I want to become a travel writer. Technically I am one now in that 1. I travel 2. I write (sometimes even about travel lol ) Even on the scale I do it, I realize how exhausting it must be to do full time. And still I dream of doing it, however I am not jumping off that cliff until I have my wee pension to cushion the fall.
    Thanks for your honesty, I would expect nothing less from you.

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  7. so glad I stumbled upon this post! Thanks for keeping it real. As someone who recently started a travel blog (for my own purpose to remember our trips and memories) it can be discouraging to see all of these other “travel bloggers” claiming to make millions and explore the world. I look forward to following your blog 🙂 Spain is on my bucket list!

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    1. It certainly can be discouraging, especially if you are sold an idea/lifestyle that really doesn’t exist except for a small few! Let me know when you make it to Spain!! I’m here for the near future! Also, feel free to check out my travel site, dtravelsround.com. I write about Spain on there. This is far more personal/un-censored than my main site! 🙂

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  8. This post is a 100% my thoughts exactly. I cannot help but roll my eyes every time I see an Instagram post by a travel blogger looking pretty with a caption that basically says ‘This is the life of your dreams. I’m living it because I quit my job to become a travel blogger. Your life sucks.” Oh my god, that could not be further from the truth for those of us living the reality of being a travel blogger, not a celebrity.

    When I quit my job to transition to full-time travel writing I had no idea I would be working harder, sometimes for free, making less than 1/4th of the cash, having sleepless nights or would not have the time to socialize like before. But I still prefer this because I truly love to write about travel. And no, tourism boards, DMOs, hotels and clients aren’t falling over each other to invite me to their destinations. I have to hustle and hustle, put myself out there and work like crazy to get anything comped. And it’s definitely not free because I’m always working, even on that comped stay or tour where I’m still taking 20 photos of my cheese platter while everyone else has finished theirs.

    It’s not as glamorous as people make it seem and I wish those who follow celebrity bloggers in the hopes of being like them would be more aware.

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    1. YES. What you said. Exactly!I went through a big pants-free phase where I would work from home because I couldn’t be bothered to leave the house and see or do anything. Glamorous? Not a chance!

      You’ve got a major point — making far less than in a normal job, and sometimes working for free. I know many in the industry poo-poo that, but sometimes for people starting out, it is the best way to gain an audience. I STILL would write for free for some bigger name sites if I KNEW it would result in eyeballs on my main one! Let’s not forget, even if something is comped, there is the expectation of coverage on the blog, which includes links, words, photos, editing, promotion, etc. Aint nothing for free in this world!

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  9. Love this. I actually wrote a post about this as well! It’s SO frustrating! Also, people always feel like as a travel blogger they can ask you how much you get paid for stuff. Um, that’s not okay for other jobs, so why is it okay for mine?

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